Woman of Today foresees a Brighter Tomorrow
It is an irony that people in India worship female gods but until few years, women of the country were unable to find their true position in the society and their voices were unheard. Earlier the country had a typical viewpoint about women buthas ultimately enhanced its outlook in due course. The mind-set has changed with time and women have also proved their worth. They have excelled in any and every role.
In India technical fields are considered to be suitable only for men. The social biasness, limited opportunities, gender gap, inequality and dissuasion deter women from choosing their right path. Most of the women try to keep their work-life and personal-life balanced. But there are many instances where burden of household weighs them down to quit their careers.
There have been innumerable debates on women’s position in the society, their education, health, economic position, gender equality etc. In India, women make up 42 percent of new graduates, but only 24 percent of them are entry-level professionals. Out of 24 percent, about 19 percent reach senior-level management roles. As per the World Bank- India Development Report, women account for approximately 17 percent of senior management.
In a country like India, where high number of female infanticide is faced, it is the need of the hour to address gender diversity at a social, individual and organisational level. As a society, everyone needs to focus on gender inclusion or empowering women in crafting equal opportunities for them, based on their choices and capabilities.
Past and Future of Women achievements
Women are the pillars of the society. The role of women in society has ensured stability, progress and long-term development of nations. Globally, women comprise 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labour force – rising to 70 percent in some countries.Women, formal and informal labour can transform a community from a relatively autonomous society to a participant in the national economy.
Keeping this in mind, Akta Jain, Director, Enterprise Mobile Engineering, Dell Digital, says,“As women we’ve come a long way in terms of achievements. There is no significant field where you don’t see women creating an impact be it sports, politics, Space, Science, Technology, Banking and the list is endless. The future looks extremely positive and I can’t be more optimistic than this in terms of growth and career for women globally and specially in India. The gender difference in India is gradually vanishing thanks to the global corporate culture, proactive education, cultural pollination. There is definitely an increasing acceptance to the role of a woman in various walks of work and life. I am certainly looking forward to a future where we inculcate a very meritocracy based environment and hence the gender of the individual becomes irrelevant. I definitely think we are headed in that direction and we will very soon be experiencing the work environment where every women feels inclusive and creating more value propositions.”
The Information Technology industry is majorly dominated by men, but with time the mindset is also changing. The industry is not male dominated anymore, as females are gradually filling various position in tech jobs.
Karyn Pastorino – Global Channel Marketing & Operations, Cambium Networks who has been in the tech industryfor over the past six years says, “I’ve seen a noticeable increase in the number of women in tech jobs. In my first year at Cambium Networks, there were fewer than 10 women that I knew of at my company. This was somewhat of a culture shock for me from my previous career in educational publishing, where women outnumbered men greatly. But in the past few years, more and more women are filling positions in engineering, channel, marketing, finance, sales, operations, and supply chain. I’ve seen the number of women filling varied functions at many of our global partners increase dramatically as well. It’s great to see that women are being given opportunities in this typically male-dominated industry and being recognized for their strong skills and business acumen.”
Technology has been proven tobe a boon for women as it eradicates the need of physical strength and the presence required at work location, where the women lacks. Besides this, a change in the mindset of the people and dual income family trend helps to enhance the position of career women.
Mohua Sengupta, EVP & Global Head of Services, 3i Infotech thinks that women have come a long way from where we were even a generation or two back. “A big part of it is because of huge improvements in technology, which has helped replace the need of physical strength and the need to be at work location all the time – the two things which kept most jobs off limits for women. But together with this came the need to have dual income families and a huge change in our mind-set. So, we see the glass ceiling for career women getting pushed more and more upwards – we see women achieving a lot of success, not just in jobs that were traditionally earmarked for women but also many other so-called non-traditional roles,” she says.
In future, Mohuasees the glass ceiling breaking completely. She does foresee equal representation from men and women, not only in junior levels or middle-management jobs, but also in the coveted c-level jobs.
The society’s perspective towards women has taken a paradigm shift. Women now realises their true worth. Irrespective of any arena, women are reaching pinnacle. Schneider Electric as an organization encourages contribution of women and supports diversity and inclusion.
Bidisha Nagaraj, CMO, Schneider Electric-India, says, “However, there has been a significant change over the years. Women in India are starting to recognize their true potential. They are beginning to break the barriers and earn a respectable position in the world. Women are excelling in several areas of work and there is no arena which remains unconquered by them. Whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, literature, and technology, everywhere, women are leading the roles all along.
Owing to the focus on female education and empowerment, the future looks great for women. With several women-centric policies and programmers, companies are working towards increasing the representation of women at workplace. At Schneider Electric our focus is on ensuring well-being of the employees by providing equal opportunities to everyone, everywhere through workplace inclusion. It is our endeavor to create a workplace where women can contribute to their full potential. We strongly advocate diversity and inclusion (D&I) as our core values to promote gender balance. Accelerating women in leadership is one of the top priorities of the company by embedding diversity of all kind within the work culture. The company is committed to increase representation of women at intake to 40%, and in top positions to 30% by 2020. In 2019, women make up 20.5% of managerial positions at Schneider Electric.”
Though there is a slow recognition and representation of women in IT, they are creating ripples in the industry and championing in it.
Vinny Sharma, Marketing Head, Forcepoint India & SAARC, says, “There has been a slow and steady stream of work to improve the recognition and representation of women in IT from big businesses and outreach organisations alike. With women participating in nationalist movements, to being pushed into the domestic household space, to their revival as super-women today, women in our country have seen it all.
Talking about the future for women and work, women are creating waves as they charge into the tech industry, meanwhile championing others to enter the same field. According to a survey in 2018, 96 percent of women in tech want to stay in the industry (source). This could be fuelled further by various policies such as flexible hours, work-from-home, anti-harassment policies, conveyance, etc. Such policies and training in tech industry, need to be provided to women in order to retain them and create paths for them towards leadership roles. This is a future-of-work trend and it serves well for women who have in the past resisted executive leadership because of time pressures and life balance.”
According to Anita Kukreja, Head – Marketing & Channel Sales at IceWarp India, women are more empathetic and considerate in handling their roles and responsibilities including their team. She says, ‘”Women today stand tall, next to their male counterparts and are shaking hands in the boardroom. Having said that, there is still room for improvement since there are very few women in the Board in most of the companies.
Indeed, the leadership role should be truly on merit but there are capable women who failed to be recognized, since the acceptance of women in senior positions will always be biased due to family responsibilities and taking care of kids. Also, there is a stupendous sense of insecurity that lurks amongst the male counterparts.”
Gender wage gap
The Gender wage gap is highest in India where women are paid 34% less than men. It is believed by many that there is a disparity in the way women are paid in spite of having equal or better potential than their male counterparts.
Sanjukta Kulkarni - VP and Head Legal at Larsen & Toubro Infotech, comments, “The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017 estimates that at the current rate it will be another 217 years before we achieve gender parity. This is an alarming statistic and one that we need to take note of.
40 percent of today’s global workforce are female yet just 5 percent of global CEO positions are held by women, according to a PWC report. Only 14.2 percentof the top five leadership positions in S&P 500 companies are represented by females, according to a CNN Money analysis. The responsibility to cause change is with each one of us and Men have to believe that they need to be a partner to create this change.”
Sumati Sahgal, General Manager- Consumer West, Lenovo says, “Pay disparity is a reality especially in certain traditionally male dominated fields. Employers need to be professionally committed to market-based and function-based remuneration completely dissociated from gender. It is important for business leaders and corporate human resources functions to acknowledge and take corrective steps when needed.”
It is been sometime that there is a realization among all about women advocated equality of thought, commitment and ownership to their workplace. They are now leading in many verticals. Parity in pay which is an issue across the globe is now changing as many women are occupying leadership roles and ensuring equality among all.
According to Ruhi Ranjan, Managing Director and Lead Asia Pacific Financial Services, Accenture Technology Services, “There has been an all-round realisation that women bring equality of thought, commitment and ownership to their workplace, they have become leaders in several spheres of industry. Today, most organisations make a conscious effort to encourage diversity at workplace to ensure they leverage the talent which diversity of gender and culture brings.
Parity in pay is an unquestionable requirement to ensure that organizations can attract and retain the best talent irrespective of gender. There is a significant shift already in countries worldwide to ensure the right parity and will further change as more women move into leadership roles and take accountability of ensuring equality benefits across all talent pools.”
Message to women
All the leading ladies conveyinspirational messages to the women believing that every woman herself is tomb of empowerment.
Believing this Akta Jain of Dell Digital, says,“With current cultural diversity it is hard to find a field where you would not see a woman role model. Right from army, navy, pilots, to engineers, doctors, lawyers and bankers, women are creating a huge impact. It is much easier than before where you’d be the first one to go down that path. Women should inculcate a feeling of self-belief, display a go getter attitude. We have more and more women creating a mark in fields that were unheard of before like sports, politics, entrepreneurship, IT etc. Women should be self-aware of her basic rights and make sure to be heard when any of these rights are violated. There is definitely no replacement for hard work and that is irrespective of the gender. You would feel far more confident if you’ve worked hard enough to know what got you here which you totally deserve. Please learn to say “No” when you have to. Be 100% passionate in whatever you do and respect, credibility and empowerment will just follow.”
Karyn Pastorino of Cambium Networks,says, “Women should feel empowered to explore male-dominated industries. Successful companies see the value of differences—different genders, different cultures, and different backgrounds. Such a mix provides the basis for growth and prosperity, fresh ideas, and equality. This is the type of company you should work for! It doesn’t matter if you do not have the industry experience many of your skills will transfer and benefit another industry. Don’t feel afraid to apply for a job in an unfamiliar industry. I went from publishing to tech—it’s the skills I brought that were important; you can learn the industry!”
Bidisha Nagaraj of Schneider Electric-India, comments, “Empowerment comes from within. Believe in yourself and the fact that you were born to conquer the world. Remember, as a woman you are already running several establishments including your home, your children’s future, your family. You are already a CEO! “
Sanjukta Kulkarni of Larsen & Toubro Infotechshares her experience as once she noticed a mother of two children interacting with her son who was a couple of years younger to her daughter. “Both the children were urging her to get them ice-cream from the store freezer where they were standing. The woman was asking the boy about his choice while the girl was trying to get the attention of her mother to give her choice. It pained me to see the mother ignoring the girl’s request and only turning her attention to her son. Eventually she might have bought the ice cream for both but the girl had to make do without her choice or voice being heard. This incident left an indelible impression in my mind and it is these biases that we as Women, Mothers and Daughter need to correct. We should create an atmosphere where our opinion truly matters. “
Sumati Sahgal of Lenovo, also conveys the same. She advices to be confident of strengths and abilities and do not shy away from taking up challenging tasks. Hard work, focus and determination play a huge role in determining every ones trajectory. It is equally important for every woman to speak up and be more demanding.
Jaya Vaidhyanathan, President, Bahwan CyberTek,comments, “Empowerment to me is all about having the freedom to making your own choices. In order to do that, I urge the women to come forward and take charge of their future by equipping themselves with the skills required to succeed in their professional space. Dream big, prioritize and have the commitment in the journey to make your dreams a reality. Let go of small fights in the pursuit for your dreams.”
Gauri Bajaj, Director and APAC Head for Managed Security Services, Tata Communications, says, “The corporate world today has become more welcoming of women employees. While some level of stereotype continues to exist in the industry, it is imperative to keep making a conscious effort, across the board, to bring about a behavioural change.
At Tata Communications, diversity and inclusion are integral to the culture of the company and ensuring the progress of women remains a key priority. The company’s programmes and policies to nurture an equal opportunities environment through unbiased applicant screening, allowing leaders to follow their natural leadership style, flexibility of work hours and location to maintain balance between personal and professional life – all contribute to creating and sustaining a conducive work environment for employees, both women and men, to advance and thrive in their careers. Such initiatives make Tata Communications a preferred employer of choice in the industry.”
Dr. Karnika Seth, Cyberlaw expert & Founding Partner of Seth Associates has also opened up her heart about the position of women. She feels, “Women have realised they have a voice of their own and they need to speak up. Women will excel in every sphere of their lives. They are bold and confident and will make a mark in anything they do.”
Dr. Seth suggests women to believe and express themselves freely in all that they do. She also puts forwards, “Remove shackles of stereotypes; remove the shackles of self inhibiting fears and rise and shine.”
Gone are those days when women were restricted only to household jobs; they have come to prove themselves in every spheres of life, be it house-hold work, armed force, pilots, engineers, doctors, lawyers, bankers etc. They have very well strengthened their position in the society. People and society have also broadened their perspective regarding the capabilities of women. It is expected that in coming years the differences that are still there in a fragmented way will be eradicated soon.